So we all know the song. Salt and Pepper shook it up ‘real good’…yup it doesn’t matter what generation you’re coming from, you’re likely to have heard it. And I bet those Roast Buster boys were pretty familiar with it too. That’s right, this is a blog about sex. The ugly side of sex. Sexual assault. Sexual abuse. Rape. The things we don’t talk about often enough. The side of sex that every person in New Zealand has to come to terms with at some point in their journey. Whether directly or indirectly. It affects us all. And because I haven’t met every person in New Zealand, I can only draw on the painful, bitter truth that is my experience. So, brace yourself. This isn’t going to be an easy read.

The year is 1995. I am thirteen years old. A guy I have a crush on asks me to meet him at the back of the library after school one day. I turn up. I’m excited. I really like this guy. He’s three years older than me. He’s handsome. He’s popular. I have hopes that he’s going to ask me out. And he does. He says he likes me too. He really wants to date me. But he wants me to meet a friend first. He walks me to the park around the corner. Takes me down a path that leads into some bushes. There are other boys there. He has a knife….and you can figure out the rest. 

For over fifteen years now I have lived with this experience, kept it hidden, trying to pretend like it never happened. Why? Because for so long I felt guilty. Felt dirty. Felt ashamed. Felt like it was my fault that I got myself into that situation. My parents had warned me about the risks I was taking. But I was a rebel, you see. The fia poto (know-it-all) teenager who thought she was bigger, stronger and smarter than them. And I wasn’t alone. From about the age of twelve I made friends with lots of other kids like me. Kids who didn’t fit, who were from broken homes, who were looking for escape. And here’s the cruncher: in 1995, in Auckland, having sex at twelve and thirteen years old was relatively common among the kids I knew. And that was before social media. Before every teenager had a facebook account and a smartphone. So imagine how common that situation is now?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a mother and the thought of my daughter having sex in the next ten years absolutely sickens me. But I’m also a realist and I know I have to prepare her for the predators out there. And the hardest part of that, is telling her that some of those predators may be the boys that she likes. Boys on facebook. Boys from school. The other thing I have to tell her is that sometimes girls can be predators. And here I’m referring to “groomers”. Yes, I knew a groomer once. We didn’t call her that. We thought she was cool and fun at the time. She was three years older than my friends and I and she liked hanging out with us. She was tall and broad shouldered and she liked playing the ‘body guard’ for us smaller-sized girls. She also liked introducing us to older guys. That was her thing. She would introduce us, so she could get ‘in’ with them. It all seemed pretty innocent back then, but I can see it for what it was now. She was pimping us out and we didn’t even know it. In one instance, one of my close friends ended up being raped by one of the guys that this groomer said was a so-called “friend”. He took my friend into a room and raped her while “the groomer” sat in the other room with the guy’s friends and got pissed.

Yup, as I said people, this wasn’t going to be an easy read. But it’s the truth and it needs to be talked about. How well are we preparing our kids for the predatory environment that is an inevitable part of our society? Are we doing them, or us, any favours by pretending that they are going to save their virginity until they’re eighteen or older? Sadly, I don’t think so. The more honest we can be with our kids and ourselves the better. Sticking our heads in the sand and hoping it will all go away is not the answer. So, yes, let’s talk about sex. But let’s talk about it with honesty. http://culturaldiplomacyblog.com/2013/11/14/lets-talk-about-sex/